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It’s a new year and a new me. It’s about letting go of the past and embracing the future. All of it. I’ll let you in on a dirty little secret. I had been hesitating of letting go of my ex completely. The very last tie I had to him was Facebook, but he was hardly ever on and seeing his picture brought up both the good and the bad, and our fantastic memories were just that. Fantastic. He made it hard for me to completely hate him because he wasn’t all bad. One Christmas he wrote me twelve, count them, twelve different cards with sayings from my favorite authors and words of encouragement to keep on going and write my ass off. To keep reaching for the stars. My gift from him after reading those cards, which also gave me tears of joy? A shooting star necklace, which I still wear from time-to-time. He just had his asshole moments, but what person doesn’t? And that thought of the good times, like the shooting star necklace, are what kept me holding on. Maybe one day he’d turn around. Maybe one day I’d get my Cinderella moment. Maybe one day he’d come back to me and tell me he was wrong and I was the one for him and that he suddenly liked travelling and wanted family and kids, but I kept holding my breath ( I find myself doing that often) and nothing came. Not even by horse drawn buggy.

My roommate, in her infinite wisdom, said, “just let go and unfriend him. Do you talk anymore?” I had to really think about it for a second. She hadn’t been the first person to ask, nor was it the first time she had asked me that question, but this is the first time I was even seriously contemplating what she was asking of me. I had tried contacting him in the past, but it had been a long time.  “Well, no. We don’t. Last time I spoke to him was last Christmas and that went well (insert sarcasm here).”

Thinking about him both makes me happy and brings tears to my eyes.  But letting go of him on Facebook, unfriending him, it meant that it was really over and that the last eight, almost nine years, were gone, and I truly had to start over again, and that scares me a little (okay, a lot!). No lost hope. No what if’s. Letting go meant it was done for good.

The truth of the matter is I think he had let go since 2010. I believe I had limited access to his profile. Though I couldn’t be certain because he wasn’t one for social media either. But I held on tight because the last half of our relationship we were on a break and then back together again so in my mind I think I wanted it to be the longest break we had, but someday it would be better again. His family loved me and I loved them, and I loved him, but I knew I wasn’t in love with him anymore, and yet I wanted to wake up and have the perfect life. The kids, the doting husband, the white picket fence, the whole nine yards.

But that’s not the case. I wake up in an apartment. Granted a fabulous one. Two bed, two bath. Walking distance to everything and amazing neighbors and a roommate I can also proudly call my sister, but it’s not where I pictured myself at 32, and that has been the harsh realization that I needed to wake up to. Life isn’t perfect and it doesn’t always go according to plan, but sometimes if we hang on longer, it’s better than we ever imagined. I have an amazing job and love all my authors. I love what they bring to the table. I love how strong this job and my authors make me. I love how strong I’ve become with everything that’s happened to me in the past. I love that I can dream past what dreams I had back in the early part of 2002 to about 2010 and I dreamt big. I helped amazing people like Scarlett Williams and Hilary Rowland with their dreams, and now I’m big on chasing my own dreams and thinking big so as I sit here typing I have to consult our trusty magic eight ball. Yes, we have one…

“Magic Eight ball, will 2014 be my year?”

“Without a Doubt.”

I smile. It did it’s job. It made me happy.

Okay, one more question, “Will I find true love again?”

“Concentrate and ask again.”

You have to love the wisdom of the Magic Eight ball. I’m sure it wants me to be specific. Concentrating and asking again, “Will I find true love in 2014?”

“Cannot predict now.”

I should be upset at the Magic Eight ball for that response, but life is unpredictable so I’m going with the flow. I have my big girl panties on and I’m ready for whatever comes my way. So, world, bring it. I’m ready for you. The question is, are you ready for me? Are you ready for all of us, universe?





 
 
At eighteen, I didn’t know what I wanted to do with my life. Most people don’t and those who actually do know are few and far between. I entered UC Riverside as an acting major; Never mind, that I hadn’t taken any acting classes in my life, but had done some modeling in high school. The UC system allowed me to change my major right away and I had always loved science so I decided to become a science major my first year. That didn’t last past my freshman year because I hated math. Still do, but it allowed me to do something amazing. This confusion about what I wanted to do with the rest of my life gave me the freedom to explore as many majors as I wanted.

My sophomore year in university I became a liberal studies major with an emphasis in English and a minor in Creative Writing. I loved to analyze everything so this was perfect. That same year I also fell in love with anthropology so I decided to double major my junior year. Anthropology allowed me to get inside heads of people and cultures. It gave me the courage to think bigger. Something I hadn’t done till college. I wanted to do something meaningful with my life.

I loved writing and anthropology so much that I ended up taking several years to decide which one I wanted to go back and get my masters in. I loved studying cultures. The stories my professors would come back with amazed me. They’d talk about smoking peyote with the locals or smuggling people to freedom. They’d speak about bringing supplies back to countries where people couldn’t get basic medical care, a proper education or even a roof over their heads. They’d talk about women who had to sell themselves to put food on the table. They wanted to be a part of the solution. They’d help these women start their own businesses, even though the businesses were small, it was enough to put food on the table without having to subject themselves to the degradation they had in the past. I wanted to help so much. I even considered sending letters out to work with Dr. Weil (And get my masters at University of Arizona where he was teaching at the time).

I had letters of recommendation for both an anthropology masters and for MFA programs. I almost applied for the anthropology masters, but writing tugged at my heart and soul more. In the end, it won. It was in a Masters program that I really learned to hone my writing and to think about feelings and emotions. I could write analytical papers no problem. Give me a 20 page paper on Egyptian women and their households and I could turn that around quickly. Understand that evidence on Egyptian women was often burned so this took awhile to figure out, and yet I could do this faster than delving into a character’s emotion or mind. It took a master’s program to force that out of me.  I had to imagine myself in their shoes. I found myself getting upset at the murder of a father or sad at the desperation in a character who just wanted to find out who she really was. It opened up a side of me I never knew I had. It’s that reason that I highly recommend going back to get an MFA.

In the process, I also found a happy medium when it comes to helping others. I work pro-bono as the Director of Partnerships for Project Migration, a fashion accessory company with a charitable initiative. Proceeds from the sales go back to help single mothers and their children in Africa. No matter what happens during the day I always write. If I’m angry, I let that emotion come out because sometimes my character’s best emotions come from the pain I’m feeling. Allowing them speak, allows me to heal. Something I couldn’t have done if I didn’t learn how to write everything out. 

 
 
I could have taken the easy way out. My family has owned successful Italian restaurants for over thirty years. When I was younger, I used to sit in our oversized dark red booths and hear about how my great uncle and Grandpa were good friends with Frank Sinatra. I remember my dad telling me that he worked out in Hollywood with my great uncle one summer at the restaurant my Uncle Sonny used to manage for years called Martonis, and at the end of the summer his reward was a trip on Frank Sinatra’s plane that was flying to Vegas where my dad would hear Elvis in concert. I would hear about how when my Aunt Tisha was a little girl sat on Cary Grant’s lap. I would hear stories about Styx and Damn Yankees from my Uncle Bob, may he rest in peace. He used to do promotions for them ages ago. 

And, recently one of my uncles, who was in the Vietnam War and had married a German woman named Bonita, told me that his ex-wife had a grandpa who was a Nazi. She was poisoned into thinking that everyone was inferior to the German race. She would often tell him in arguments, “You cannot help that you are the way that you are. You’re an American and of Italian decent. You’re not German and Germans are the perfect race.” They used to argue often over that and when she wanted him to stay in Germany with her and wouldn’t let him see his family, his answer to her was a no-brainer; they divorced.

Most people would think it's a no-brainer, why not just fall into the family business. Everything is set up, but if I did that I would be miserable. Now granted working for family has allowed me time to write my YA novel, but would I never run a restaurant. It's not my passion. Writing is. 

Writing doesn't pay well most of the time, but I don't care. It's what I love. I live and breathe for my writing. That's how my uncles feel about the restaurant business. When we had to sell one of the restaurants you could see the devastation in their eyes. Now that's passion and love for what you do. If someone told me to just stop writing, they better have a damn good justification for it. Even then I wouldn't listen. 

I often come across people in the restaurant who are eager to read my book and ask when it will come out. What they don't understand is that writing is also about rewriting. It's about rewriting some more. It's about sending it out to an agent and hoping they love it. It's hoping an editor will love it enough to sign you on as a client and it's hoping you have a fan base that will continue to grow. Otherwise you're just writing for yourself. In any event, even if it takes years, I'm not giving up. It's a persistence game. You don't tell a MLB player to stop playing baseball or a ballet dancer to give up because her feet are too big or her stance is too wide. They wouldn't give up, they'd work harder. That's what I do. Work harder to follow my passion because that is what life is about. Having something to live for and the courage to go after it! 



Happy writing! 



Heather